As a mommy, I am perpetually in a state of de-cluttering. Those of you with children absolutely feel my pain, yes? I have three wonderfully “spirited” kiddos: the girl is 10, my sweet boy is 8 and the stinky boy is 5. Last spring I had a few days off which I quite productively spent on cleaning out a few of our highly neglected rooms. We recently moved (by “recent” I mean two years ago) and still have multiple cardboard boxes half filled and scattered about the house. I took this time to primarily tackle our boys’ room. I dare not touch the girl’s room fully aware of my inability to control my arm sweeping across every surface in sight…throwing every single cheap tacky nick-knacky thing that girl owns into the trash (including every God-blessed snow globe she has received from her richer, more-frequently traveled relatives…no she has never personally been to Vegas, Baby!).
The boys’ room.
The issue here is not nick-knacks, rather a serious accumulation of toys that they NEVER ever play with. I actually took great pleasure and satisfaction filling about four boxes that would eventually make their way to a future Goodwill/Yard Sale pile in our basement. If I could eliminate one more tiny, sharp-edged object that successfully hides in our carpet until I’m stumbling through their room at 2am to calm a crying child…then, yes, I’m one step closer to happiness. I began by filling boxes with impossible transformers that put the Rubik's cube to shame, Bakugans with those little arms that won’t close all the way, not to forget the annoyingly loud noise-makers that were practically brand new but I saw my opportunity and RAN with it. (Don’t judge me.)
After filtering out all of the mismatched car/track sets, random k*nex pieces, broken light sabers I finally came upon the biggest space thief in their room. Thomas. My boys…between the two of them…had been hoarding Thomas the Tank Engine tracks (of VARIOUS sets – wooden, blue plastic, gray plastic…you get the picture), every single engine times three, two different Tidmouth Sheds, I could keep going but I’d get carpel tunnel. ALL. IN. THE. BOX. Because, really…when was the last time I saw my boys laying on their chubby little bellies playing with those trains? Huh? Years. Gone.
With a feeling of overwhelming success and a tad bit of mischevious sneakiness I wielded those overflowing boxes down to the basement never to been seen again.
Very recently we excitedly planned a trip to visit some friends of ours that live a few hours away…who we adore and only get to see a couple of times a year. They are wonderful parents to two lovely baby-dolls…a 5 year old girl and a 3 year old boy. (You see where this is going.)
The morning before our trip my husband extended a surprisingly generous gesture (he is predictably yet reassuringly cheap)…instead of gaining a write-off by making a Goodwill donation, or making a total of $2.50 by unloading it in a Yard Sale, he offered to deliver all of the Thomas engines and accoutrement (which I had completely forgotten about) to our friends in order to “pass the ‘Thomas’ torch” to their son. Great idea!! I was so proud of him for making the suggestion…knowing their sweet little boy would put those toys to good use. Thomas and Friends would be in good hands. Literally.
The next day as we excitedly placed the box of Thomas gear in front of the boy, his face lit up like a Southern Indiana neighborhood on the fourth of July. He was SO excited and swiftly began tugging each and every engine from the box, calling them all by name. That kid knows his Thomas! As I sipped my coffee watching him that morning I began to feel the nostalgia…it hit me like a ton of bricks. He was lying on his belly…putting together the tracks and placing the engines one by one, hooking them together to make them go round and round. (Crap.) He excitedly pulled one of the sheds from the box and a few additional engines. (Nope…not gonna do it.) Proudly, he began humming songs from the show, smiling from ear to ear. (Why do I feel like someone crammed red pepper flakes in my eyes???) Before I knew it he had all of the Island of Sodor built right there in their living room. (Oh God…here it comes.) And then his Mommy started the song. THE song. And he knew every sweet word…
They're two, they're four, they're six, they're eight
Shunting cars and hauling freight...
(Stick me with a fork, I’m done.)
In the sweetest little three year old voice he sang that whole song. The WHOLE song…word for word. And I bawled like a baby, singing through every salty tear, right along with him. I was so happy that he loved those trains yet simultaneously wanted to scoop them all up and run screaming from the house…”mine, mine, mine!!!” That little bubble faded from my shoulder and I instead spent the day watching him play and truly being thankful that I knew exactly where those toys were spending the next few years. We may not be bringing any new stinky boys (or girls, for that matter) into this world but I love that boy like he is one of my own.
I continue to fight this baby fever…a wicked bug, it is. I find myself thinking of those sweet moments when I’ve quietly snuck into the boys’ room to see them peacefully “shunting trucks and hauling freight”, or lining up their army men in a perfect line, or spying in to hear my daughter sing along to one of her favorite Taylor Swift songs. Those memories will never fade and I will probably always look back on those with a slight ping to my ovaries…a brief desire to have “just one more”.
Thankfully and equally there will always be those moments when I see an exhausted mother who hasn't slept in a year, fumbling with an over-stuffed diaper bag, a stroller that refuses to fold and a baby spewing something from multiple orafices…and then I think “nope, I’m good.”